Prêt-À-Poundo: Tina Lobondi Brings "Uptown Africa" to ONG YEHE

Interview with French-Congolese designer Tina Lobondi. Her new collection Uptown Africa reveals her heritage with subtlety.

French-Congolese Tina Lobondi is truly a unique fashion designer with the skill and style to present the African quintessence in fashion today. Lobondi combines African prints and modern shapes, creating a unique aesthetic and signature. But rather than create a dizzying array of African print pieces, the London-based designer is offering a luxury women's ready-to-wear collection. Lobondi has shaped her style for the sophisticated woman who knows how to attract attention. In her new collection called "Uptown Africa", upholding what African print means now to London and beyond, she clearly defines a bold and passionate woman. The finish is of extreme quality and allows you to appreciate the work detail. This new collection showcases classic lines, daring necklines, draping, controlled and contoured tailoring. But also, Lobondi hand makes "made-to-order service" where you are able to choose your fabric and design to create your individual crafted one-off Piece.

On the heels of her great success during the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa, she will be soon presenting "Uptown Africa", a timeless collection that reveals her heritage with subtlety in Abidjan, Ivory Coast this week on 24th November at the ONG YEHE Annual event. We chopped it up with her before she took off for the continent once again. Read the full interview below.


*Designer Tina Lobondi

Who is Tina Lobondi?

Tina Lobondi is a French-Congolese designer living in London, where all the collections are produced.

*Photography by Mariah Do Vale / Hair and Make-up by Zannie Vong

How did you start creating? When did you start considering fashion?

I started creating/customizing when I was 13. So fashion was the obvious route for me.

Did you study fashion? If yes, where?

I study fashion in France at a Private school in Freming-Merlebach and at London College of Fashion.

*Photography by Mariah Do Vale / Hair and Make-up by Zannie Vong

What are your inspirations and your influences?

My inspiration and influences comes from my life, friends, experiences, strangers in the streets, movies, music etc...

What materials are you using? Where do you get these materials?

I use different materials from Duchess Satin to Silk, to African Ankara, or Organza. They all come from around the globe, Africa, Us, Asia.

When was the label launched?

The Label was launched in London in 2010.

*Photography by Mariah Do Vale / Hair and Make-up by Zannie Vong

How would you describe Tina Lobondi signature in one line?

Tina Lobondi signature is glamorous, elegant and classic.

Are you considering yourself an "African designer"?

I am a designer from African origins, born in Kinshasa.

Today, as a fashion designer who has media coverage, are you using fashion as a way of talking? Or maybe inspiring the youth?

It is always nice to be given the opportunity of expressing your views. If I am inspiring other people and the youth to do good with their life, I can only be thrilled about it. We all need to give back.

*Photography by Mariah Do Vale / Hair and Make-up by Zannie Vong

Today, we have the emergence of many African Fashion Weeks in many countries. This evolution is proof of the existence of African fashion, shall it be also more present in "regular" fashion weeks?  Is there any discrimination?

I think using the word "regular" fashion weeks would be a discrimination. African fashion has always been present, I think we just didn't understand the value of it ourselves, but now we do. Emergence of all these fashion weeks in Africa, only has one question, why did we wait so long. Africa has plenty of brilliant minds, we just needed the platforms to show that to the rest of the world. The fashion industry has its rules like anything else, and it is time for us to follow the league, India did it and they have their Vogue Magazine, we will get ours too.

I think that you are a great example of the African-inspired revolution, mixing cultures with the wax prints and these modern shapes, do you think that you are bringing something new?

I don't know if I am bringing something new but I surely hope so. I am just trying to bring my culture into my designs, and to be honest when I started I never thought about all these labels. I just wanted to make clothes and some wax prints are just unbelievable and good quality. I saw it as a material just like the others.

*Photography by Mariah Do Vale / Hair and Make-up by Zannie Vong

I know that you were part of the Next South Africa Mercedes Fashion Week, how did it feel? What does it represent for you? What could be the impact for your label?

Doing Mercedes Benz fashion week has been the highlight of my work. I finally felt like the hard work paid off. It was incredible and I met really nice people I want to work with again. AFI (African Fashion International) has a very professional team that knows the industry.

South Africa is the best example and the rest of Africa should follow the quality they are aiming at. I think Nigeria is also a great example of improvements.

The previous collection looks great. Could you describe this new collection? What is the evolution from the previous one? What is your favorite piece and why?

My new collection "Uptown Africa" is for women who wants more from their wardrobe. They want to feel unique but also that the clothes they are wearing are like an investment for the future. I think it is more fun and "girly" than the Autumn-winter Collection. My favorite piece is the long Satin/Wax print evening dress, the combination of the 2 materials worked perfectly for me.

*Photography by Mariah Do Vale / Hair and Make-up by Zannie Vong

What's next? Do you have any other events planned?

I am flying to Ivory Coast on 20th November for the ONG YEHE. The event is for the week and I look forward to going back to Africa.

What are your hopes for African fashion?

I hope it gets more international platforms to show what it can do.

Describe Tina Lobondi in one word.


Artwork: Barthélémy Toguo Lockdown Selfportrait 10, 2020. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Goes to Paris in 2021

The longstanding celebration of African art will be hosted by Parisian hot spot Christie's for the first time ever.

In admittedly unideal circumstances, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be touching French soil in 2021. The internationally celebrated art fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora will be hosted in Paris, France from January 20 - 23. With COVID-19 still having its way around the globe, finding new ways to connect is what it's all about and 1-54 is certainly taking the innovative steps to keep African art alive and well.
In partnership with Christie's, the in-person exhibits will take place at the auction house's city HQ at Avenue Matignon, while 20 international exhibitors will be featured online at And the fun doesn't stop there as the collaboration has brought in new ways to admire the talent from participating galleries from across Africa and Europe. The fair's multi-disciplinary program of talks, screenings, performances, workshops, and readings are set to excite and entice revelers.

Artwork: Delphine Desane Deep Sorrow, 2020. Courtesy Luce Gallery

The tech dependant program, curated by Le 18, a multi-disciplinary art space in Marrakech medina, will see events take place during the Parisian run fair, followed by more throughout February.
This year's 1-54 online will be accessible to global visitors virtually, following the success of the 2019's fair in New York City and London in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19 related regulations and public guidelines, 1-54 in collaboration with Christie's Paris is in compliance with all national regulations, strict sanitary measures, and security.

Artwork: Cristiano Mongovo Murmurantes Acrilico Sobre Tela 190x200cm 2019

1-54 founding director Touria El Glaoui commented, "Whilst we're sad not to be able to go ahead with the fourth edition of 1-54 Marrakech in February as hoped, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be in Paris this January with our first-ever fair on French soil thanks to our dedicated partners Christie's. 1-54's vision has always been to promote vibrant and dynamic contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives and bring it to new audiences, and what better way of doing so than to launch an edition somewhere completely new. Thanks to the special Season of African Culture in France, 2021 is already set to be a great year for African art in the country so we are excited to be playing our part and look forward, all being well, to welcoming our French friends to Christie's and many more from around the world to our online fair in January."

Julien Pradels, General Director of Christie's France, said, "Christie's is delighted to announce our second collaboration with 1-54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, following a successful edition in London this October. Paris, with its strong links to the continent, is a perfect place for such a project and the additional context of the delayed Saison Africa 2020 makes this partnership all the more special. We hope this collaboration will prove a meaningful platform for the vibrant African art scene and we are confident that collectors will be as enthusiastic to see the works presented, as we are."

Artwork: Kwesi Botchway Metamorphose in July, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957

Here's a list of participating galleries to be on the lookout for:


31 PROJECT (Paris, France)
50 Golborne (London, United Kingdom)
Dominique Fiat (Paris, France)
Galerie 127 (Marrakech, Morocco)
Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/ Dakar, Senegal)
Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris, France)
Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, France / New York, USA)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, France / Brussels, Belgium)
Galleria Continua (Beijing, China / Havana, Cuba / Les Moulins, France / San Gimignano, Italy / Rome, Italy)
Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana / London, United Kingdom)
Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca, Morocco)

Luce Gallery (Turin, Italy)
MAGNIN-A (Paris, France)
Nil Gallery (Paris, France)
POLARTICS (Lagos, Nigeria)
SEPTIEME Gallery (Paris, France)
This is Not a White Cube (Luanda, Angola) THK Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa) Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland)

For more info visit 1-54

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